Return to ‘Normal’ with Schizophrenia

It’s been a week since I was in the emergency room for getting my esophagus scoped.  Had to take it easy for a couple days but I’m back to normal.  At least as normal as things are going to get with schizophrenia.  It’s been two weeks since I had a third anti psychotic medication added.  It appears to be doing the trick as I haven’t had any kind of upsets or flare ups in anxiety or agitation for several days.  I’m even sleeping better now.  I still keep odd hours as I typically do better at night when there are less stimuli and fewer people out and about. I can say things are starting to return to normal again.

It has been some time since I was able to have any routine for any length of time.  I had my best friend’s wedding in July.  In addition to the wedding I had the last of my grandparents die.  While I wasn’t completely torn apart by my grandmother’s death, I know it effected me in other ways.  I got out of a regular sleep pattern, which makes mental illness problems worse.  I became especially lazy about watching what I ate and didn’t exercise as much as usual.  I was more irritable and short tempered too.

I had what has essentially become my late summer or early fall mini psychiatric break in early October.  Traditionally I have my break downs in August or early September.  I was hoping to make it through the rough patches and lack of routine without a breakdown.  No such luck.  Fortunately I was able to talk down and burn myself out.  For most people as bad off as I was, going a mental health hospital is the best option.  Since I have such a great support system in my immediate and extended family, I was able to talk my way out of my flare up.  I don’t know how my family is able to deal with my flare ups and break downs without taking them personal.  It has to be hard.  It’s hard enough for me when I’m going through them.  I am concerned for when my family members begin dying off and I have to find different support people.  This is a fear of mine.  Perhaps by then treatments will be developed that are even better then what are available now.  Maybe there will even be a cure.  In the meantime I keep moving on and attempt to keep a since of normal with schizophrenia.

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Recovering From Several Rough Days With Mental Illness

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Had several rougher days than normal lately.  One of those days involved a bad episode where I was close to checking myself into the local psych hospital.  Fortunately one way for me to break out of bad episodes is to just talk my way out of them with friends and family, literally allowing myself to speak out of my distress.  It is a tough process for all involved but it does work, at least in my case.  I do not recommend this for most people because there can be many hurt feelings on the part of support people, friends and family.  I think the reason it works for my case is that I grew up in a stable family who would drop everything for one of their own at a moment’s notice.  My family handles these problems like champions and saints.  I don’t know how they do it without taking these episodes personal.  After I’ve burned myself out I make it a point to tell them that it’s nothing personal and I’m sorry for what happened.

Saw my psych doctor on Monday afternoon.  We added a new psych medication and a temporary medication to aid in sleeping.  Haven’t been sleeping terribly well lately either.  The psych issues and the sleep problems just feed on each other no doubt.  But I’m a couple days into a recovery.  Things look promising again.  I hope things keep going better.  I’ll keep you posted as I document these last rough several days and my attempts at recovery.

Why I Blog The Way I Do and Reflections on Blogging, Part One

I recently published my 50th blog entry on this site, alifeofmentalillness.wordpress.com.  It has been a series of interesting, and eye-opening experiences over the last eighteen months.  When I started this, I had no clue it would turn into anything semi-regular.  I guess I didn’t know I’d still be posting after one and a half years.  With that said, the fifty entries I have posted seem to have had a decent reception from the readers.  I hope that the next eighteen months will allow for more posts and more insights into the lives of mentally ill people trying to make a life in ‘a chronically sane world.’

I suppose now would be as good a time as any as to why I post the blog entries I do and use the style of writing I do.  I suppose just as important is why I don’t post the things I don’t. I’ll attempt to go into some details on both.

Why do I blog the way I do?  Many of my blog entries are essentially telling about the aspects, hangups, draw backs, victories, defeats, joys, and pains that I have personally experienced in my life as a mentally ill individual.  This blog doesn’t go too deep into the psychiatric and physiological research and terms simply because I didn’t study psychiatric medicine or physiology in college.  I had a hard enough time with organic chemistry and calculus while I was working through this illness when I was a pre-med major in my second year of college that I dropped calculus and failed organic chemistry.

This alone, at least in an academic sense, would lead some to imply I have no real background in psychiatric medicine or the physiology of the human brain or know about the effects and side effects of psychiatric medications.  For one, I have been an out patient of psychiatric medicine for over fourteen years.  Though I have never been a doctor giving the treatment to psych patients, do not believe for one minute that I don’t know more about psychiatric treatments than those who, in their misguidance, believe that mental illness is not real and thus the pain and anguish associated with the afflicted is not real.  I wish to God I was making up everything I perceived during the course of my mental illness.  To think that those of us with these problems are acting out because we want attention and sympathy is not only sadly naive, it is completely cruel and absolutely inhumane.  If I wanted attention, there are far easier and more effective ways to receive it than fake a malady that most neurotypicals can’t even relate to.

I suppose some would argue because I don’t present scientific facts, figures or use many complex sounding terms that most people can’t relate to, I am making invalid statements about mental illness and my experiences.  To suggest that because someone doesn’t present statistics, that person is not accurate is not in itself true.  First, if numbers are what a person wants, there are plenty of internet sites that provide the cold, hard, faceless facts. This site doesn’t provide just faceless and coldly sterile facts and information.  Anyone with access to any internet search engine can find far more facts, figures, statistics, and descriptions about mental health issues than they could easily sift through.  I am not a scientist by nature or training.  Science wasn’t even my favorite subject in school.  I am not condemning science at all by not providing ‘just the facts.’

If anything, this blog attempts to put at least faces, names, places, and circumstances on the facts and figures that scientists have already discovered.  I suppose I am one who adds the personal element to the mental illness discussion.  Once a face and name is placed on the particular ailments and numbers of an illness, that is when things really start resonating with people.  We hear every day in the news about natural disasters hitting far away places or people losing their jobs when factories close.  Those stories tell the facts, yes, but they often fail at rousing the compassion and actions of others because rarely are names of the afflicted or their life stories shared.  Sadly, we tend to become numb to hearing about these disasters and tragedies of the human existence and come to believe that the hardships and sufferings of other humans do not matter.

Yes, it is true, I as an individual may not have power to do much about floods in Bangladesh, typhoons in Japan, chronic poverty in Haiti, war in Syria and Ukraine, ebola in Liberia, the effects of human made climate change, or the closing of factories and chronic droughts in my own nation.  But I can at very least care about others enough in my small hometown to aide those I come across on a daily basis.  And I certainly can write about the hardships of having a mental illness in such a manner to offer compassion and support to those with mental illness, their loved ones, as well as articulate what is like to have a mental illness to others for those who are unable to articulate for themselves.

Being a voice for mental ill individuals who are unable to articulate for themselves, even if I am unable to speak exactly for every one of us, is the primary purpose of this blog.  I do this to offer support, compassion, and explain to others that the anguishes and pains are extremely real.  I don’t use this blog to be spiteful to others who don’t agree with my ideas. I don’t use this blog to badger and bully others into my line of thinking.  I have no moral grounds to force anyone to believe and think as I do.  All I can do is tell my story, tell the stories of others, and offer aide and support to the hurting and overwhelmed.  Hopefully through the telling of these stories and offering support to other mentally ill persons and their loved ones, compassion for the mentally ill can be achieved.  Even if it is convincing people one at a time.

This ends Part One of this posting.

Thoughts on the Death of a Close Friend

I’m going off my usual mental illness topics for this post.  Something like what I’m currently writing has been weighing on me for quite some time.  Yet it finally crystalized into actual thoughts within the last twenty four hours before this writing with the death of one of my best friends.  This man died in his early 80s and was a retired Lutheran minister.  Pastor Vern, as this man was known to everyone living in my apartment complex, was probably the wisest, wittiest, well read, and compassionate individual I met in my entire life. I knew him for eight years but I don’t believe I ever heard him say anything derogative or hurtful about anyone.  I know I can’t go even eight days without at least thinking something hurtful directed at others, but hopefully most of this is due to the aspects of my illness.

Being a career Lutheran minister, Pastor Vern no doubt had his views on religion and God.   Yet he was not as caught up in rituals, creeds, and beliefs when talking with me as he was on the basic principles of Christianity and other religious beliefs.  Those core beliefs, the ones he lived by everyday were simply 1) Love God, 2) Care About Others, and 3) Respect Yourself.  I suppose if one were to substitute or supplement  the world ‘God’ with nature or the earth, even the most convinced atheists would be hard pressed to deny that loving nature, caring about others, and respecting yourself are good principles to attempt to live by.

Pastor Vern, being one with a wide array of interests and knowledge, was a perfect friend for someone like myself.  He and I could easily talk about history, classical literature, philosophy, among numerous other topics for quite a long time.  We would usually be sitting outside, him smoking his pipe, and just discuss whatever happened to come up regardless of whether it had any logical order or direction or not.  Some of our neighbors who listened to our conversations no doubt thought us a little odd for rarely discussing such mundane things as weather, current events, or gossiping about others.  For myself and Pastor Vern, hardly any topic was not subject matter to be discussed.  We had an unspoken agreement that no matter how much we disagreed on any one topic, we would never become angry or speak harshly to each other.  I suppose this falls under the care about others and respect yourself principles.

He and I have both studied the basic teachings and principles of most religions with significant followings.  We both came to the conclusion that in spite of the differing rituals, social practices and customs, sets of creeds and beliefs, etc. that one thing they all believed were the ideas that a person would be better off in their own lives and dealings with others if the basics of ‘Loving God (or your creator/giver of life/etc.)’, ‘Caring About Other People and Living Things’, and ‘Respecting Yourself’ were principles that a person attempted to live by.

Yes, these are simple principles to the point that any six year old child can grasp these are important.  Sadly, most of us as adults severely complicate these and often don’t live by these ideas at all.  How much less strife and division would we have in our work places and places of business if managers, workers, and customers alike lived by even the caring about others and respecting ourselves?  How much less war, famine, disease, poverty would we have if even individuals, let alone the governments of the world, operated with these guides?  How much less needless destruction of our most valuable forests, farmlands, waters and wasting of finite natural resources would we have if we lived by even the ‘Love God/Nature/Earth’ idea?  How much less conflict and needless grief would we have in our personal lives if we cared about others and respected ourselves more?

I apologize for the mini rant in the previous paragraph.  I wrote that to try to apply to our own lives the principles that my recently deceased friend Pastor Vern lived by every day.  These are principles I attempt to live by though often inconsistently.  In closing I’m glad to have had a friend like Pastor Vern for the eight years I knew him.  I wish that everyone could attempt to live by such principles, or at least become acquainted with those who do.